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BMR Advisors’ corporate tax practice deal goes down to the wire

LiveMint logoLiveMint 17-07-2017 Gireesh Chandra Prasad

Deloitte India has emerged as the front runner for acquiring BMR Advisors’ corporate tax practice even as KPMG and PwC remain in the race.

With the boards of three of the Big Four accounting firms approving enabling resolutions for a potential merger, the deal has gone to the wire.

The interest in BMR Advisors’ corporate tax practice comes at a time when consulting companies have been ramping up their tax practice, given the need for talent to tap the opportunities offered by India’s transition to a single goods and services tax (GST).

On the direct tax side, too, regulatory changes have warranted professional services firms to bolster their manpower.

Recent policy changes in transfer pricing, accounting and India joining a multilateral convention seeking to prevent aggressive tax planning has boosted the demand for tax professionals.

Queries mailed to the spokespersons for BMR Advisors, Deloitte and PwC on Monday evening weren’t immediately answered.

“As a policy, we do not comment on market speculation,” a spokesperson for KPMG said in response to an emailed query from Mint.

The Economic Times newspaper on Monday reported that Deloitte, KPMG and PwC are in the race to buy the whole or part of BMR Advisors.

BMR Advisors has around 600 people on its team, with practices such as tax and regulatory, mergers and acquisitions, and risk and advisory.

“The internal announcement was made by Deloitte (India) chief executive officer N. Venkatram,” said a person aware of the development, requesting anonymity.

Mint couldn’t ascertain the value of the proposed transaction.

“The negotiations are going on but the deal is yet to be finalized. Talks are on and there are others in the fray. The deal is not final yet,” said another person aware of the development.

BMR’s leadership team comprises Bobby Parikh, Gokul Chaudhri, Rajeev Dimri, Rohit Berry and Sanjay Mehta.

Mukesh Butani is the non-executive chairman of the firm.

BMR had recently announced the induction of five new partners to add to its National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai offices.

“The firm promoted these partners through its performance management system. The partners are Anand Laxmeshwar in the transaction tax practice in Mumbai, and from the NCR office, Sumit Singhania in the corporate international tax practice and Saurabh Kanchan in indirect tax practice. Lokesh Malik has been promoted to partner in the mergers and acquisitions (M&As) practice and Harkishan Bhatia takes the role of partner in the company’s risk and advisory practice,” BMR Advisors had said in a 2 May statement.

Domestic and international investors have for some time complained about excessive tax demands and a 2012 change in law resulting in retroactive tax demands.

Around Rs4-5 trillion is estimated to be locked up in litigation at various courts and appellate authorities.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has signalled the need for an overhaul of the tax regime, especially with the intent of making Indian corporate entities more competitive.

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